By Vivian Okejeme, Abuja
The Court of Appeal, Abuja, yesterday affirmed Smart Adeyemi of the All Progressives Congress, (APC) as the duly elected Senator representing Kogi West Senatorial District.
A three-man panel of Justices led by Justice Khadi Adamu Usmani, in its judgment held that the appeal instituted by Senator Dino Melaye of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) was lacking in merit.
Consequently, the court awarded a cost of N50, 000 in favour of each of the Respondents.
The appellate court held that the Kogi State National and State Houses of Assembly Election Petition Tribunal was right in its decision which upheld Adeyemi’s election as a Senator representing the Kogi West.
Melaye, challenging the outcome of the election tribunal, insisted that the tribunal failed to properly evaluate the petition and proof of evidence he filed against the return of Adeyemi of the APC.
He alleged that the Justice Isa Sambo-led three-man panel tribunal wrongly rejected some documents that were tendered before it, and thereby occasioned grave miscarriage of justice against him.
He therefore, prayed the Court to direct the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC, to issue a Certificate of Return to Melaye as winner of both the substantive election that held on November 16, as well as the supplementary poll that held on November 30, 2019.
However, the appellate court in its judgment held that the petitioners were unable to prove that the election was not only characterized by manifest irregularities, but was not conducted in compliance with the Electoral Act.
Justice Khadi Adamu Usmani led panel noted that whereas elections were conducted in 173 polling units, the petitioners merely called witnesses in respect of 48 polling units.
He held, “The petitioners failed to discharge this burden by proving their allegation of irregularities in accordance with the requirement of the law.
“This tribunal is of the firm belief that Exhibits P39 (1) & (2) are the only results known to law regarding the election held on the 16th of November 2019 and that supplementary election held on the 30th of November 2019.
“Having meticulously perused the averments in petition, the replies filed by the respondent send the replies on point of law filed by the petitioners, and all the testimonies of the witnesses called by the petitioners, and read the final written addresses filed by all the counsel and the replies on point of law filed thereon, the tribunal is convinced that the petitioners failed in discharging the burden of proving their petition.
“The tribunal finds that the petitioners failed to lead credible evidence to prove their allegations”, Justice Usman added.